What is the Metabolic Confusion Diet and does it work?

As the name suggests, the metabolic confusion diet aims to trick your metabolism into working harder and so helping you to lose weight quicker.

The metabolic confusion diet is a relatively new diet that aims to get your metabolism working harder, helping you to lose weight quicker.

If you’ve tried the majority of extreme weight loss (opens in new tab) plans, from the Sirtfood Diet (opens in new tab) to the Dukan Diet, (opens in new tab) and still can't lose weight (opens in new tab) then the metabolic confusion diet could be one to consider. Especially as you've probably learnt by now that your metabolism has a lot to do with how you lose weight and how successful you are at it.

Everyone’s metabolism - the body’s process to turn food into energy - is different and works at different speeds. Whilst some people’s metabolisms are supercharged, others are slower and don't burn calories (opens in new tab) as fast. The metabolic confusion diet is one of the diets that work fast (opens in new tab). It promises to re-charge your metabolic rate with it's mixed calorie plan. But does it work?

We asked two health experts to weigh in on the diet and its weight loss abilities:

What is metabolic confusion?

As the name suggests, metabolic confusion is when a person actively confuses their metabolism by adopting a diet that mixes high and low-calorie meals (opens in new tab).

According to dietitian Claire Murphy at Last Verdict (opens in new tab), this increasing and decreasing of calories is designed to fire up your metabolism:

“Essentially, if you continue to vary calorie consumption, the number of calories that your body burns when resting (otherwise known as a basal metabolic rate) is enhanced, as your metabolism works harder, which will increase calorie burning and encourage fat-burning (opens in new tab).”

A person’s metabolic rate is a big factor in weight loss, explains Dr Sophie Chung, a licensed medical practitioner and co-founder of Qunomedical (opens in new tab):

“The slower your metabolism, the more calories you have to reduce in your diet. The faster, the more calories you can consume without gaining weight.

“The idea of the metabolic confusion diet is to trick your body into not slowing down your metabolism with a regime of mixed calorie meals,” she adds.

A close-up of a women pouring water into a jar, surrounded by fruit and vegetables.

Credit: Getty

How does a metabolic confusion diet work?

The metabolic confusion diet is similar in style to that of an intermittent fasting diet. This is because you’ll have days where you’ll consume less calories. And then days when you’ll meet the NHS recommended daily calorie intake (opens in new tab). This is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.

Though the metabolic confusion diet is similar to fasting diets like the Fast 800 diet (opens in new tab) or 5:2 plan, there is a big difference calorie-wise.

“Metabolic confusion dramatically differs from the 5:2 as it allows far more calories, even on the low consumption days,” dietitian Claire tells us.

A typical low day on the metabolic confusion diet would see someone consume 1200 calories. This is considerably higher than the 5:2 plan’s 500 calories.

What’s more, there’s no restrictions on what time of day you eat (opens in new tab) and when you should implement low-calorie days.

“The practice of metabolic confusion is prescriptive to a person’s lifestyle. Those participating can alternate days between low and high calorie intake or even alternate weeks,” adds Claire.

“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what order you conduct the practice, the results will stay the same.”

close-up of a woman's hand getting a forkful of spaghetti

Credit: Getty

Does metabolic confusion actually work and is it good for weight loss?

Both experts agree that at present there is not enough evidence to suggest that the metabolic confusion diet actively affects your metabolic rate.

However, Dr. Sophie believes it shouldn’t be dismissed. Especially as the diet’s structure is easier to follow compared to other more restrictive diets.

“When you feel like you’ve ‘failed’ your diet there can be a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater and completely give up on healthy eating habits,” she tells us. “By allowing yourself to indulge in some higher calorie meals around a healthy diet, you may be more likely to stick with it long-term.”

Dietitian Claire agrees that the diet is easy to maintain because it doesn’t feature any severe food restrictions.

“It does not remove any food groups from a person’s diet and the overall calorie intake, even on a low-calorie day (1200), is not severe.”

Exercising, like this women, is recommended on the metabolic confusion diet

Credit: Getty

In terms of weight loss, exercise is actively encouraged alongside the metabolic confusion diet. Working out on low calorie days will burn off the calories (opens in new tab) you are consuming, leaving you in a calorie deficit. This in turn, leads to a fast weight loss, adds Claire.

Those who are wondering how to lose weight (opens in new tab) and want to follow the metabolic confusion diet should see a medical professional first.

“Consult your doctor or see a specialist if you want to find out your current metabolic rate so you can plan your diet accordingly,” advises Dr. Sophie.

Metabolic confusion diet meal plan

As it’s not extremely restrictive, you can be fairly flexible about what you eat on the metabolic confusion diet.

A typical plan for two weeks will be 11 days of low-calorie intake, followed by 3 days of high-calorie intake. The point of doing this is to force your body into a weight-loss plateau (opens in new tab) by resetting your metabolism through cycling your calories and macronutrients.

So, a typical low-calorie day on the metabolic confusion diet plan might look like this:

Breakfast

Banana, yoghurt and oats smoothie (opens in new tab) (197 calories)

1 large, boiled egg (78 calories)

Lunch

Vegetable soup (opens in new tab) (163 calories)

Chickpea burger (300 calories), pair with whole grain bun or bread

Dinner

Sweet chilli salmon (opens in new tab) (345 calories)

Snack

Orange muffin (opens in new tab) (130 calories)

Tropical fruit salad (opens in new tab) (85 calories)

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.